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Trout Preliminary Hints And Advice

The amateur who is beginning trout culture had better by all means buy

eyed ova from a fish cultural establishment. There are many of these in

the British Isles, and nowadays eyed ova are packed and sent safely all

over the country. The artificial spawning of trout is not an undertaking

in which the beginner is likely to achieve great success, and therefore

I should advise him to avoid relying upon it when he commences his
/> operations as a fish culturist.

Collecting the ova of wild trout is also an operation of some

difficulty, and lays the beginner open to much more disappointment than

if he deals with eyed ova purchased from a reliable establishment.

Instead of having to watch and care for the ova through a critical and

dangerous period, he receives them shortly before the young fish hatch

out, when the ova are not in the most delicate stage.

It is of the greatest importance that everything should be ready for the

ova long before they are expected, as hurry and new apparatus are likely

to cause failure. Any concrete and varnished or enamelled woodwork

should be exposed to the action of a current of water for at least five

or six weeks before they are brought into actual use.

The choice of a suitable spot in which to make his hatchery is a serious

point for the consideration of the amateur. A spring is the best water

supply as a rule, for the water is usually of a fairly even temperature,

and does not require filtering, but water from a stream where trout are

known to live is quite safe. A few years ago it would have been

necessary for any one wishing to take up fish culture, to erect a

building in which to place his hatchery if he intended to hatch any

number of eggs, in order to guard against frosts. At the present time,

the eyed ova of even the brown trout (_Salmo fario_) can be obtained

sufficiently late to be safe against a frost severe enough to cause any

damage, and as the rainbow trout (_Salmo irideus_) spawns in February

and March, the amateur is, at the time he receives the eyed ova, quite

safe from frost.

The best method to pursue is to make long narrow ponds, with a current

running through them, and to hatch the eggs out in trays and boxes

suspended in these ponds. When the young fish hatch out, the trays which

contained the ova can be removed, and the young fish kept in the boxes.

Later on the young fish can be released from the boxes into the ponds. I

shall subsequently describe how these ponds, trays, and boxes should be


The rearing ponds should be made, if possible, at a fall in the level of

the water supply, so that they may be easily emptied. This is an

important point which is frequently overlooked by amateurs. There should

be an outlet on a level with the bottom of the pond, and if the water

escapes through a pipe, that pipe should incline downwards. This, in a

series of ponds, of course necessitates the ponds being at different

levels, but the water is thus under much better control than if the

outlet is at a higher level, and the ponds are easily emptied. Ponds

may, however, be worked successfully with the outlet in mid-water, or

even near the surface, though this does not ensure such a certainty of

change of water throughout the pond. It is not, however, always possible

to obtain such a difference in level between the supply and waste. In

such cases the ponds should be made shallower near the outlet.

A popular idea seems to be that a gravel bottom is necessary for the

well-being of trout; this is quite a mistake. Personally, I believe that

a good earth bottom is best in a rearing pond, and even in a pond lined

with concrete I should always put a layer of mould, preferably turf

mould, at the bottom. With the use of this mould during the subsequent

operations in rearing trout I shall deal later on.

The size of the ponds, of course, depends upon the number of trout to be

reared. It is better to have several medium sized ponds than one large

one, as then accident or disease occurring in a pond will only affect a

portion of the stock of fish. Mr. J. J. Armistead in _An Angler's

Paradise, and How to Obtain It_, says: "A pond sixty feet long, four

feet wide, and about three feet deep, will hold ten or fifteen thousand

fry at first, and give them plenty of room to grow, but by the end of

July the number should be reduced to five thousand, which may be left

till October, when they should again be thinned out, or, better still,

put into larger pond."

I should advise the amateur who is dealing with only a few thousand fish

to work on a smaller scale in these proportions, and to make these

changes gradually, and yet more gradually as the season advances. That

is to say, work with a third of the number of fry in ponds half the size

and move some fish several times before the end of July. As October

approaches, make changes of smaller numbers of fish more frequently.

Late in the autumn is, in my opinion, the best time to put the young

fish into the water they are to inhabit permanently. It must be a

mistake to rear them artificially longer than is necessary, and by the

end of November they should be fairly capable of looking after


Trout, which are artificially reared on chopped meat and other soft

foods, suffer from a lack of development in the stomach walls, and also,

probably, in the rest of their digestive apparatus. The first case I saw

of the stomach of an artificially reared trout was a two-year-old

trout, upon which Dr. C. S. Patterson performed an autopsy. The stomach

walls were as thin as a sheet of tissue paper. At the time I believed,

and, if I remember rightly, he also thought that this was due to

atrophy, but I am inclined to think that this idea was only partially

correct. The stomach walls of the autumn yearling trout, which is

artificially reared on soft food, do not show any marked abnormality in

the way of thinness; but as the trout's age increases, so does the

thickness of the stomach wall decrease in proportion to its size. This

leads me to believe that the development of the stomach wall, at any

rate, and probably also of the glands secreting the gastric juice and

the digestive apparatus generally, gradually ceases when at about the

age of eight or nine months if the trout is fed upon soft food.

Probably, also, a certain amount of atrophy and dilatation of the

stomach wall is produced. If my observations are correct, so also is the

conclusion that a trout which cannot digest hard food, of which a great

part of his natural food consists, will not have a really fair chance

when turned out. Therefore, I say, turn out your trout in November,

unless you can feed them on such food as shrimps, snails, bivalves and

_Corixae_; and if you stock with "ready made" fish, stock with yearlings

in the late autumn.

The turning out of his fish in November will also allow the amateur

plenty of time to prepare his ponds and apparatus for next year's

operations. If the ponds are made on a stream, probably the very best

place that can be chosen is where there is a fairly sharp bend in the

stream just below a fall. An artificial fall can often be made where the

banks are high by damming up the stream several feet. Care must be

taken, however, to avoid any risk of the ponds being flooded.